AIXLAB, the new media content startup, has gained much popularity with its flagship game series ‘The Haunted House VR’, currently running offline on LBE Korea. The startup was started as a motion graphics firm, by the CEO Hwang Kwab Hwan and another co-founder, right after he graduated from University. Eventually, Hwan and his team worked hard to expand it to the Virtual Reality (VR) space and becoming a new media content production company with a focus on VR games.
Hwang Kwab Hwan had a conversation with koreatechdesk.com about the startup’s growth and its future goals – which includes more episodes of ‘The Haunted House VR’ series.
1. Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on?
I’m running AIXLAB, a new media content production company focusing on 3D, CG, and Graphic Design. AIXLAB produces a variety of contents including VR games. We are distributing ‘The Haunted House VR’, a horror VR game series to LBE Korea and are developing sequel VR content series. I founded AIXLAB right after I graduated from University and continued to build AIXLAB to where it is now.
2. What motivated you to get started with your company? And how did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
We wanted to promote AIXLAB and also create profit with our creation without doing the client works with VR. AIXLAB used to work primarily on motion graphics for clients but our desire for full creative control grew which led to creating our own production. We strive to maintain quality and aesthetics as designers.
3. Please tell me more about your founding team.
AIXLAB was originally founded by two co-founders. We met at the university doing commercial motion graphic projects. Our main focus was to create quality work based on visually aesthetic graphics. As the VR market bloomed, AIXLAB changed the direction of the company and focused on creating VR content.
4. How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
As a content production studio, the core focus of AIXLAB is to create interesting and appealing content for the audience. Initially, we provided free content for publicity. Now we are focusing on promoting AIXLAB as a production company by creating quality work.
5. What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
The horror VR series currently in production is being distributed to LBE Korea offline. We are trying to distribute our content world-wide and have plans to make profits through online distribution such as Steam (BtoC) after distributing the three series being produced offline (BtoB). At the moment production costs are covered by doing commercial work.
6. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and the obstacles you’ve overcome?
AIXLAB started off doing commercial work like other design agencies. It was only later that we created our own content. One of the main obstacles we have is financial freedom. We are trying to keep a balance between commercial and original content. It was a challenge to start this transformation at the beginning, but we hope to focus solely on our own contents soon.
7. How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Since we wanted to create our own content without external influences, AIXLAB has never run external investments or funding. However, production-wise, we are being funded by the Korea Creative Content
Agency (KOCCA), which oversees and coordinates the promotion of the Korean content industry.
8. Tell us about the process you went through to build the company and if you had to start over, what would you do differently?
We strategically laid out our goals to avoid dramatic challenges. It would have been a big challenge if we had aimed to change the company’s character through large-scale investment. To create a VR game using UnrealEngine, we gradually expanded our business area slowly by touching on other elements that can be done with our expertise; CG video production. From then, we re-invested the profits from commercial work and increased our output. Since I started AIXLAB right after I graduated, I had no boss or mentor that could guide me through the process. If I had to start over, I would like to have experience working with competent leaders, learning their abilities to make quick and efficient decisions. I find the methods I have used in the past have limitations against adapting to drastic changes.
9. What are your goals for the future?
Our prime goal at the moment is to complete the three horror VR series. I feel like we are about halfway through. I hope people thoroughly enjoy our content and acknowledge our work. My final goal is to create a stable environment where we can create fun and exciting content.
10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And what advice do you have for someone interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
The best advice I received was to enjoy the process. Although it’s very important to have passion, I think it’s more important to enjoy and endure the process.